Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

At our Rapid City laser eye surgery practice, we perform comprehensive dilated eye exams once a year to ensure the health of the eyes for our patients with diabetes from Williston, ND. Diabetic retinopathy is among the most common diabetic eye diseases and is a leading cause of blindness in adults in America today. It is common for diabetic retinopathy to develop in both eyes. Many diabetic retinopathy patients experience no symptoms in the early stages of the condition. Because of this, the condition is often only discovered during the routine eye examinations recommended for all patients with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and anyone with diabetes may develop this eye disease.

The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Developing diabetic retinopathy also commonly results from uncontrolled blood sugar levels. In the advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, vision loss is possible. When there is too much sugar present in the blood, damage can occur to the blood vessels that provide the retina nourishment. This process continues until vision loss has occurred. The eye may attempt to grow new blood vessels, but these blood vessels often do not develop properly. These newly formed blood vessels can leak easily, which also results in vision loss. In some cases, scar tissue will form on the retina and may lead the retina to detach. The lenses of the eyes may swell as a result of high blood sugar levels. This swelling can cause blurry vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy are symptomless for most patients. As diabetic retinopathy advances, patients may experience these symptoms:

  • Eye floaters (dark strings or spots floating in your vision)
  • Blurry vision
  • Vision loss
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dark spots that occur in the vision
  • Difficulty with color perception

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Mild nonproliferative retinopathy: This is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy. Microaneurysms, or areas of swelling in the tiny blood vessels of the retina, start to develop during this stage.
  • Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy: During this stage of the disease, the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina may start to become blocked.
  • Severe nonproliferative retinopathy: Many of the blood vessels are blocked during this stage of diabetic retinopathy. The blood flow to the retina is severely affected by these blockages. Because of this, the retina sends out signals for the new growth of blood vessels.
  • Proliferative retinopathy: This is the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy. Because of the signals sent by the retina, new blood vessels develop. Unfortunately, these blood vessels develop abnormally and are quite fragile. Because of this, it is not unusual for the blood vessels to leak. When leaking occurs, vision loss and even blindness may result.

At Black Hills Regional Eye Institute in Rapid City, retinal conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment can be treated with injection, photodynamic therapy, or laser surgery. Treatment during mild, moderate, and severe nonproliferative retinopathy may not be necessary. Laser eye surgery may be necessary for patients with proliferative retinopathy.

Contact Black Hills Regional Eye Institute Today

We provide exceptional care to patients from Williston, ND and surrounding areas. To learn more about diabetic retinopathy symptoms, please contact Black Hills Regional Eye Institute today.